Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA) Charles Herbert is warning that the putrid odour emanating from the Bridgetown sewerage plant, which forced the closure of several businesses along Fontabelle and Cheapside, The City for a second straight day today, was costing the country productivity at a time it could least afford it.
Herbert told Barbados TODAY this evening that with no timeline given by the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) by which a solution could be expected, he was concerned about the loss of productivity, given the country’s unforgiving economic climate.
“Loss of productivity is an issue for sure but one would like to think that after the Barbados Water Authority gave us an explanation that they would then give us some assurance as to when it would be fixed. Certainly that is not acceptable after two days. They must not only acknowledge that there is a problem but it is worrying if they can’t fully explain it and it is even more worrying if they can’t tell us how they are going to fix it,” the business executive said.
In a statement released yesterday after the overpowering stench of sewage forced the closure of several businesses, the BWA said “initial investigations” had suggested that “a portion of a noxious substance may have been dumped at the plant” last Saturday, February 10.
“This substance knocked out the bacteria population integral to the waste water treatment process. This has contributed to the strong scent coming from the plant, which is being smelt in surrounding areas,” the statement said.
When Barbados TODAY visited the affected area this morning, some of the businesses which had closed early yesterday were attempting to keep their doors open. However, by noon they had to pack it in as the stench had again become overpowering.
Some workers at the Barbados Investment Development Corporation complained of burning eyes, upset stomachs and inflamed sinuses.
President of the National Union of Public Workers Akanni McDowall said it was possible that workers would be off the job again tomorrow if the problem persists.
At the same time, Herbert described the situation as downright embarrassing, especially with the worsening sewage crisis on the south coast, which has resulted in effluence spilling onto the streets and swamping the grounds of homes and businesses for more than a year.
“I have not spoken directly to the BWA so I can’t pretend to know the reasons, but the situation is embarrassing that we would have two sewage issues one on top of the other,” Herbert told Barbados TODAY.
“I am really concerned about the disruptions, which are huge, and the fact is that the problem is awfully close to the port. We have thousands of tourists coming in, Bridgetown was filled with tourists yesterday and it is hard to imagine that they did not walk across, and I am sure that many persons were affected by it.”
Late this afternoon the BWA issued a new statement explaining that efforts by the Wastewater Division (WWD) to control the problem in Bridgetown had yielded results.
“After identifying the substance which was offloaded at the plant on Saturday, February 10 and which contributed to the noxious scent, WWD operators have started replenishing bacteria integral to the treatment process. This has been able to contain the odour considerably,” the BWA said.
The water company said it had strengthened its policies on monitoring all waste coming into the plant, and reminded haulers to observe established regulations for dumping.